by Dennis Dalman
Golfers at Pine Ridge Golf Course in Sartell will – at least by next summer – have an excellent driving range to use, instead of the sometimes soggy tract they’ve had to contend with for years.
The management has long been aware of the range’s drawbacks, but it’s had to delay fixes because of other improvements that had to be made to the course, a total of about $180,000-worth of them, according to Dan Dols, co-owner of Pine Ridge and of Boulder Ridge Golf Club in St. Cloud.
Dols recently addressed the council to request a delay in one lease payment to the city to free up funds to use for driving-range improvements. The council unanimously agreed to delay the second of this year’s lease payment of $20,000 until later.
The improvements will be done this September, Dols told the council. There will be some entrenching work, application of pea rock and tiling installed to drain water. Every year, at least once, the driving range is flooded, so much so that golf balls get stuck and actually sink down in a muddy muck.
Because of the far-from-ideal driving-range, Dols said, it takes about 40 days off of the maximum usage of the range every year, which adds up to a loss for the owners. Pine Ridge Golf Course began when Dols and another business partner began leasing the land from the City of Sartell six years ago. That was right after the city purchased the former golf course for use as park land, leaving enough land for the nine-hole course leased by Dols and company. Dols said in the six-year period of leased ownership, Pine Ridge has yet to turn a profit, largely because of the inferior and at times virtually unusable driving range. He said he is confident once the range is improved with a good drainage system, the course will start turning a profit.
Through the past six years, Pine Ridge has made innovations, including emphasis on more family play time, youth golf and golf lessons, as well as physical improvements and additions to the course.
The driving-range fix, Dols said, would “really improve the image of the golf course and be a good benefit for the city.”
The council agreed.